COVID-19 Updates

April 16, 2020

Dear The Arc of Dutchess Families,

In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we will continue to suspend operations of site-based day programs indefinitely at The Arc of Dutchess, including all Day Habilitation and Community Pre-Vocational sites (at both Lagrange and Dover) and all large-scale respite based activities. The limitation of visitors at ANY site will also be extended indefinitely, as we work to combat the spread of COVID-19 into our programs.

As of April 16, 2020 we have not reported a positive case of COVID-19 of an individual we support. Should we identify a confirmed case of COVID-19 among an individual at one of our residential programs, we will follow directives from NYSDOH and OPWDD to protect the people we support.

In accordance with Governor’s Cuomo’s Executive order, all staff and individuals that work in the community are required to be provided face coverings as of Thursday, April 16. Here at The Arc of Dutchess, we instituted a Policy on April 10 that mandated all staff to wear a face-covering in the course of their work, and had previously identified three houses (where individuals posed the most significant risk of infection should an exposure occur); staff are given reusable surgical masks to wear at the start of each shift. We continue to work to secure necessary PPE (personal protective equipment), including reusable masks for each employee, and are hopeful that we will be able to have multiple masks for each employee due to our many “citizen seamstresses” in the community and on staff.

The Arc of Dutchess continues to emphasize best practices for infection control at all our sites. These practices include utilizing proper handwashing and cleaning practices at all our residential locations, utilizing antibacterial hand sanitizers and alcohol-based cleansers whenever possible and necessary, maintaining safe social distancing practices, and avoiding contact with sick individuals, among others.

We are making every effort to manage this disruption of services and the emotional impact of evolving restrictions for the people we serve under unprecedented circumstances. If you have support needs of your loved one, please reach out to (845)635-8084 and we will work to direct you to the appropriate contact that can help you identify alternative solutions.

We realize the impact suspension of our day programs and visitation has on our families, staff and the people we support, however it is critical we take action to limit the spread of illness. We encourage you to continue to listen to directives from the CDC, which include social distancing and self-quarantining, so that we may be able to flatten the curve and stop the spread. Until then, we will continue to do our best to support you and your families.

Sincerely,

photo of Crys McCuin signature

Crys McCuin
Executive Director, The Arc of Dutchess

April 10, 2020

Dear Families, Friends, and Supporters of The Arc of Dutchess:

I am writing to provide with an update on how we, as an organization, are responding to current challenges to protect the safety of those we support.

We continue to be incredibly fortunate. As of 4/10/20, none of the people we support have tested positive for COVID-19. Rest assured, should an individual we support test positive for the virus, there are protocols established by the Department of Health and OPWDD (Office for People with Developmental Disabilities) that we must follow. We have used those guidelines in the creation of our own plan.

Four staff members have tested positive for the virus. Due to our screening process, these staff members were identified as possible COVID-19 cases early, limiting their interactions with the individuals we support and other staff.

As per CDC guidelines, as well as recommendations from Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, we have asked all staff to wear a face-shield as they perform their work duties (for example, a bandana or kerchief, if a mask isn’t available), including administrative staff that still report to one of our locations. We are working to secure enough reusable face masks for everyone working in the agency, and thanks to a team of agency “seamstresses” and the help of many suppliers (and our parent organization, The Arc New York), we are close to meeting that target.

We are so grateful for our community that always comes to our call. I will continue to provide weekly updates to keep you informed about how we’re doing, but rest assured, we are doing everything we can to keep our staff and the individuals we support safe.

With gratitude,

photo of Crys McCuin signature

Crys McCuin
Executive Director, The Arc of Dutchess

March 26, 2020

Dear Friends, Families and Supporters of The Arc of Dutchess:

Yesterday, our oversight entity, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), released new guidelines further restricting visitation and community outings. We know that these restrictions impact the lives of the individuals we support, and we are doing our best to balance the quality of life of the individuals we protect here at The Arc of Dutchess with ensuring their safety. As we share these measures with you, we can report that we have identified no positive cases of COVID-19 in any of our programs as of 3/25/20.

The following four sets of restrictions, effective 3/25 at 2 pm, were issued to ensure safety and to comply with Governor Cuomo’s PAUSE Initiative – meant to stop the spread of COVID-19.

  1. Restrictions on Home Visits: OPWDD has confirmed the necessity of organizations to restrict visitation to residential programs, a decision the agency made on 3/16. To reiterate that policy, which can be found on our website, all visitation is RESTRICTED until further notice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into our programs. We are encouraging our residential programs to use alternative methods, like Skype, to ensure the individuals we support are in communication with their families during this difficult time.
  2. Restrictions on Community Outings: As an agency, we have been cautious about community outings, following protocols issued by Governor Cuomo regarding social distancing. OPWDD today mandated we continue to do so, and engage in “low risk” outings, such as sitting outside or taking a walk. We understand that this impacts the goals of our individual’s Life Plans, and OPWDD has recommended we find alternative ways to help these individuals meet their goals.
  3. If you prefer to care for your loved one in your home at this time, please contact (845)635-8084 and we can discuss options with you. Please note that anyone that chooses to leave their residential program to go home to their families is no longer able to return until adequate containment of the virus is determined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and our local Department of Health. This measure is also implemented to minimize risk of exposure.

We appreciate your cooperation as we work to sustain connections with loved ones and families, while prioritizing the health and safety of the people we support, our staff members and our community.

Sincerely,

photo of Crys McCuin signature

Crys McCuin
Executive Director, The Arc of Dutchess

March 20, 2020

Dear The Arc of Dutchess families,

In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has directed all providers to temporarily suspend operations of site-based day programs beginning on March 17, at 5 p.m. At The Arc of Dutchess, these closures include all Day Habilitation and Community Pre-Vocational sites (at both Lagrange and Dover) and all large-scale respite based activities. Visitors will not be allowed at ANY of our sites including our administrative offices (which will remain open, but will be staffed with limited individuals) and residential sites, unless it is deemed medically or clinically necessary.

Should we identify a confirmed case of COVID-19 at one of our residential programs, we will follow directives from NYSDOH and OPWDD to protect the people we support. We continue to monitor all guidance from local, state and federal agencies, and will manage any situation within the framework of that guidance.

The Arc of Dutchess continues to emphasize best practices for infection control at all our sites, including (utilizing proper handwashing and cleaning practices at all our residential locations, utilizing antibacterial hand sanitizers and alcohol-based cleansers whenever possible and necessary, maintaining safe social distancing practices, and avoiding contact with sick individuals, among others). We are actively working with The Arc New York, OPWDD, and state and local health departments to develop response plans and procedures that prioritize the health and safety of our families, individuals and staff.

We are making every effort to manage this disruption of services and the emotional impact of evolving restrictions for the people we serve under unprecedented circumstances. If you have support needs of your loved one, please reach out to (845) 635-8084 and we will work to direct you to the appropriate contact that can help you identify alternative solutions.

We realize the impact suspension of our day programs and visitation has on our families, staff and the people we support, however it is critical we take action to limit the spread of illness. We appreciate your understanding as we work together to ensure the health and safety of our community. We thank you for your continued patience and partnership.

Sincerely,

photo of Crys McCuin signature

Crys McCuin
Executive Director, The Arc of Dutchess

March 16, 2020

Dear Families, Friends, and Supporters of The Arc of Dutchess:

This is a difficult time for everyone, and here at The Arc of Dutchess, our hearts are torn. In consideration of all that confronts us, hard decisions must be made to protect the people we support and our dedicated members of staff.

Due to concerns related to the mitigation and containment of COVID-19, and in keeping with guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our local and state Departments of Health and New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), The Arc of Dutchess is instituting the following measures beginning March 17 and until at least March 27, 2020:

  • We are closing our Lagrange and Dover sites which will also impact people who receive day habilitation and community pre-vocational services.
  • Individuals living in our certified IRAs will receive support and care at their homes and forgo attendance at their typical day services program.
  • Clinic services will be provided on a priority basis as determined by the appropriate clinician.
  • All Direct Support Professionals (DSP’s), regardless of department, will be reassigned to assist in the Residential Department to continue providing for health and safety concerns for the people we support in their homes.
  • Families that prefer to have their family member with them can do so; however, we request they manage their living environment for at least two weeks, possibly more, to minimize the chance of a potential exposure.
  • We implemented a Visitor Policy that disallows visitors at any Arc of Dutchess site until further notice. 
  • The people we support who are employed in the community and followed by a job coach will be guided by the protocols established by their particular employment site.
  • Our Administrative Offices will continue to be open to assist families and individuals in this challenging time.

As you all know, the coronavirus is an evolving situation. We receive new information and guidance hourly, and will do our very best to keep you informed of our decisions and rationales as they occur. As we head into this week, we ask everyone to send gratitude to our community health care professionals, first responders, EMTs and all others who are working to keep us safe.

Please also keep in mind our direct support workforce who are juggling childcare, keeping their family safe, staying healthy themselves, and getting themselves to work so the people in their care will eat, be safe, receive appropriate care, and stay healthy. They cannot work remotely. They must “show up”, and in doing so, they show us the very best of the human condition. Please don’t forget them in your thoughts as we work to protect and support who and what matters here in Dutchess County.

Sincerely,

photo of Crys McCuin signature

Crys McCuin
Executive Director, The Arc of Dutchess